It’s been long overdue that we post a Shopify review on A Better Lemonade Stand. It’s well known information that we recommend Shopify over every other ecommerce platform, for reasons we’ll detail in this post, but essentially we just think it’s the best ecommerce platform out there for entrepreneurs.
A Brief Introduction
Shopify was founded in 2004, its headquarters are based in Ottawa, Ontario and they reportedly support over 300,000 merchants with their hosted ecommerce platform software. Basically, Shopify makes it easy for people who know nothing about programming, coding and web development to startup and run their own online store. They do this so entrepreneurs can focus on the building the aspects of their business they excel at without having to worry too much about the technical stuff.
For most ecommerce entrepreneurs, Shopify will always be the best choice. There are so many different ways to make Shopify’s ecommerce platform work for any business model, no matter what kind of business model you plan to operate. Since Shopify is the leading ecommerce platform, additional features such as apps and themes are made for Shopify first before any other ecommerce platform and other tools and services that ecommerce businesses use such as email list services, dropshipping suppliers and shipping and fulfillment services will always be easy to integrate with Shopify first if they are able to integrate with any ecommerce platform at all.
In this post we’re going to discuss what’s so special about Shopify and what types of services they offer. If you haven’t already tried out Shopify for yourself you’ll get an idea of what to expect from them and if you already use Shopify for your online store you might learn something new about what they can offer your business. Let’s jump into it.
May 23, 2017: Shopify Mac App
- For a more seamless user experience for your Shopify store check out the newly launched Shopify App for your Mac computer. Rather than accessing your Shopify dashboard from your internet browser, simply launch the app for easy access every time you need to check in on your store. Find the Shopify Mac App here.
June, 2017: Wholesale Channel Available for Shopify Plus Users
- For stores selling great products they want to make available to other retailers, now there’s a wholesale option. This password-protected, stripped-down and simplified version of your store enables you to offer a seamless wholesale experience for the retailers you work with. Click here to read more about Shopify’s Wholesale Channel.
June 19, 2017: Shopify Introduces the BuzzFeed Sales Channel
- You now have the opportunity to get your products in front of the eyes of BuzzFeed’s editors with the new BuzzFeed sales channel integration on Shopify. Tag your products to be searched and found by BuzzFeed editors for the chance to get your products featured in front of their audience of over 200 million users. Read more about Shopify’s BuzzFeed Channel here.
Shopify is for Small Businesses & Large Companies
Shopify has the unique capability to support both small businesses run by sole-proprietors just starting out and large corporations that achieve high traffic and revenues. No matter the specific needs of the business, the fundamental ability of Shopify to just work translates itself effectively to any business, large or small.
Back in the day, you had one chance to operate a successful business. Things were different: businesses only existed as brick-and-mortar shops and entrepreneurs had to shell out huge amounts of money to pay for their business venture which, if they financed through a bank, they were taking a huge personal risk. Not only would they have to provide personal assets as collateral but if their business venture failed they would essentially become radioactive to every bank within their reach and be unable to take out a loan ever again.
Luckily for us, starting a business isn’t that difficult anymore. Through Shopify’s platform you can start your own small business right here, right now, for monthly payments that are probably lower than your cellphone bill. If your store doesn’t work out, you can pause or completely cancel your payments without any repercussions. It’s easy.
Besides the monetary aspect of operating a small business, Shopify as an ecommerce platform supports small business operations because it takes so much of the work and technological expertise off the shoulders of business owners. Most people who are or want to become entrepreneurs don’t have a vast understanding of the web development and coding that’s necessary to run a successfully self-hosted website that’s secure to use, beautiful to look at and entirely functional. Of course, it’s possible to learn how to set up a secure, beautiful and functional self-hosted website without needing any official education, however each of these things will need to be maintained over time for optimal performance, and if performing this maintenance doesn’t come easy to you, then it can be a very time consuming and frustrating experience.
Shopify does all the maintenence for you so you can operate a secure, beautiful and functional website for your online business without worrying. What you pay Shopify each month to use their service is like paying an employee to fix all your tech issues so you can manage the product development, customer service and strategic planning; except, you don’t actually have to have an employee. Shopify just handles their end, so you can handle yours.
Since Shopify is so efficient at handling things from their end, corporations have migrated their businesses over to Shopify so they can handle the technical stuff and the corporations can focus their attention elsewhere. It’s the same as it is for small businesses, just on a larger scale. Companies like Red Bull, Kylie Cosmetics and MVMT Watches operate via Shopify Plus, which is subset of Shopify’s ecommerce platform made for high-volume and fast-growing merchants. If it works for them, it can work for you too.
Easy to Use Interface
Since there’s no coding experience needed to develop your own unique ecommerce store on Shopify, they’ve made it super easy for you to make the adjustments you need to every part of your store. They give you options, you pick what you want, fill in the blanks and you get your own customized store. Of course, if you’re completely new to using Shopify there will be a bit of a learning curve figuring out exactly where everything is located on the backend, but everything is laid out in a completely accessible way so you can just move step by step making adjustments as you go.
Here’s how the Shopify administration side is set up:
Get an overview of what’s going on with your business. See today’s sales and visitors, view recent activity, and get an overview of Shopify announcements.
Manage, track and view orders that have been made and draft up orders for customers who place them over the phone.
Add your products into this section, import your existing product inventory, manage inventory transfers, enable inventory tracking, organize products through collections and sell gift cards.
Whenever a customer places an order this section will show their details and their purchase history.
Get an overview of your store’s sales, refunds, taxes, payments and view your dashboard that details your visitors over time, your conversions and other specific information.
Make adjustments to the look and feel of your store by editing pages, navigation and customizing your theme.
Access Shopify’s app store for tools that will help you manage aspects of your online business such as marketing, sales, social media, shipping, inventory, accounting, customer service and more.
View your store details, payment gateways, checkout settings, shipping preferences, tax settings and more.
Shopify is a Hosted Ecommerce Platform
When setting up a website for your ecommerce business there are essentially two choices: Set up a self-hosted website, or set up a hosted website. What does this mean?
- Self-Hosted websites are entirely managed and maintained by the creator of the website. All upkeep, troubleshooting and security systems are implemented by the creator of the site and it’s their responsibility to keep them up to date, secure and working properly.
- Hosted websites have all the maintenance managed by an experienced and expert third party that handle the upkeep, troubleshooting and security for the people who create websites via their service.
For people who aren’t super savvy with technical computer and programming skills, it’s highly recommended that you build your website on a hosted platform. Starting a business is a learning curve in itself without having to spend time fixing technological issues when you could be working on other aspects of your businesses instead. Even people who are experienced with technical computer operations use hosted platforms because of their level of security and ease of use, so they really are relevant to everyone.
These are the advantages of using Shopify’s platform to build your ecommerce business:
- You have nothing to set up
- You don’t have to worry about your customers’ or your own security
- You don’t have to monitor your website’s up and down time
- You can host a new or existing domain through them
- Your customers can load your website quickly no matter where they are in the world
- You have unlimited bandwidth on all of Shopify’s plans
- Your store’s data is automatically backed up
- You don’t need to know how to code
- You don’t have to worry so much about the technical side of running a website
It really just saves you stress and frustration from dealing with complex technological issues that are better left to an expert team so the security and reliability of your ecommerce website will never be compromised. Shopify’s hosted ecommerce service gives that peace of mind.
The Shopify App Store
Since Shopify is one of the best, if not the best, ecommerce platform, when apps are made to support ecommerce stores, they’re almost always made to be compatible with Shopify first. This means that Shopify’s App Store has the most up-to-date and innovative tools available to help you run your ecommerce business more efficiently.
Shopify’s app store offers all types of different services you can use to amplify your Shopify store’s abilities. Ranging from marketing, sales, social media, shipping, inventory, customer service, accounting, reporting and more, there’s an app to help make your business better at anything.
Besides Shopify having their own app store, there are other businesses that specialize in creating apps exclusively for Shopify, so if you’re looking for an app to help you operate your business that doesn’t already exist on Shopify’s app store, you can check out other app creators. BOLD Apps and Out of the Sandbox both create apps exclusively for Shopify stores and they’re renowned for their quality, so they’re worth checking out.
App integration capability may not sound like a make-it-or-break-it reason to choose an ecommerce platform to build a business on, however, it means you’ll always have access to the most up-to-date tools you can use to operate your business in the best way possible. If you’re just starting out this may not seem like a big deal, but further down the line you might find you need a tool to help you run your business better and if you have easy access to it, like you will through Shopify’s app store, then your problem can easily be solved. Not all ecommerce platforms have app stores and not all of them have the same apps that Shopify’s does, so if you’re interested in having access to the most relevant and innovative app integrations, Shopify is the easy choice to make.
Shopify is an Inexpensive Platform to Use
Compared to the fact that years ago most people had to take out a loan from a bank to create a physical brick-and-mortar business, and many people to this day still do the very same thing, being able to create a store online for monthly payments that cost you less than it probably does to go out for coffee every day of the week, is pretty remarkable.
Shopify’s Basic Plan gives you access to all of their security and updates plus most of their features for $29 (USD) per month. For better credit card rates and access to more features, their Shopify Plan is priced at $79 (USD) per month. Finally, they also have an Advanced Shopify Plan aimed towards providing advanced features for scaling businesses which is priced at $299 (USD) per month.
For most sole-proprietors, and for new businesses just starting out, the Shopify basic plan is usually the best option. It gives you access to all of the most important features at a very manageable monthly price.
Shopify Supports Many Types of Business Models
No matter what kind of store you’re running, or want to run, Shopify can handle it. Whether your business model is based on dropshipping, subscriptions, affiliates, occasional in-person sales, “Buy Buttons” embedded into blog posts, selling on Facebook, or any combination of these options, Shopify supports it all.
If you’re unfamiliar with what dropshipping actually is you can check out our post about it here, but if you’re interested in starting a business with very little time and money to invest, dropshipping is one of your best options.
Creating an ecommerce store with Shopify and pairing it with a dropshipping service is easy to do and you’ll have the ability to run it completely autonomously. Many dropshipping providers have apps in the Shopify App Store that integrate with Shopify stores making it a smooth process every time a customer places an order. This way you won’t have to forward orders to your dropshipper every time you receive one, it just happens automatically.
Subscription Service Models
With one simple app integration you can turn your regular Shopify store into a subscription service so your customers can have recurring orders placed automatically with no fuss. While Shopify doesn’t inherently offer subscription model pricing capabilities, the ReCharge App is your best option if you’re looking to operate a subscription service.
Shopify POS System
Suppose you want to hold a pop up shop, or maybe your store has a booth at an event or festival where you want to sell your products in person. Shopify’s POS System makes it possible to integrate your ecommerce sales with your in-person sales easily and efficiently with their special POS software.
With this system you can accept credit card payments anywhere, on any device, your inventory is updated in real time and your data is stored online just as it normally would be. This way your business can move with you wherever you go and support you and your customers wherever it’s most convenient.
For a seamless on-the-go payment experience, use Shopify’s wireless Chip & Swipe Card Reader to sync effortlessly with your Shopify store when you’re selling in person. It has certified EVM chip technology, industry-leading encryption, accepts all major credit cards, oh and it’s free for businesses that are new to Shopify POS. Can it get any better than that?
Blog Post Buy Buttons
Monetize your blog without having to create an entirely separate platform just by adding Shopify Buy Buttons to your blog posts. You’ll be able to access all the usual Shopify features such as your order history, customer contact information, tracking information, sales analytics and Shopify Apps, but the entire shopping experience can take place on your blog so your customers don’t have to be re-directed anywhere else.
Selling on Facebook
Similar to how you can monetize your blog with Shopify Buy Buttons, you can sell just as easily on Facebook so your customers don’t even have to switch platforms. You have access to all the Shopify features that you normally would but you don’t have to re-direct your customers to another website, let them shop right on Facebook. By selling on Facebook you’re also exposing your business to an online area with lots of organic foot-traffic that you can take advantage of to grow your reach.
Similar to dropshipping, if you’re interested in selling online without investing a lot of time and money into it, running an ecommerce store selling products via affiliate links can be an attractive option.
If you’re new to selling via affiliates and want to know more about how it works, we wrote a blog post all about how to set up an affiliate store for beginners that discusses how to set one up on Shopify, so we recommend checking that out. Shopify supports affiliate stores through simple app integrations which allow you to promote a product from another store, like Amazon, and link to it via your affiliate link.
Shopify Channel Integrations
If you’re selling your products across multiple channels such as your online store, POS system, buy button, Facebook, and more, Shopify makes it easy to house all your information and data on one unified platform. You’re able to keep track of sales and inventory easily so you don’t make mistakes, and when it comes time to measure analytics and accounts, all the necessary info is in one spot. Shopify currently integrates with popular channels such as Amazon, Pinterest, Facebook, Wanelo, Houzz, Wish, Kik, Buzzfeed, and many more.
For businesses that operate at a high volume of sales, Shopify Plus offers a scalable ecommerce platform that can fit your individual business’ needs. Shopify supports high volume businesses by providing the same hosted service they do for every other business, just on a much larger scale, making it a much simpler process to manage. Shopify also places an emphasis on partnering with Shopify Plus merchants to help them better strategize their growth and maintain their competitive edge.
Use Shopify’s convenient payment processing system to help your customers check out faster. Using this secure system all shoppers will have to do is enter their email and an expirable 6-digit verification code to make a purchase, which shortens the checkout process from several fields down to two. No longer will your customers have to fill out repetitive information like their shipping and billing information, Shopify Pay will have the necessary information pre-filled so all it’ll take is a couple of clicks or taps to completion.
As a merchant, this will make your checkout completion time lower which will help to increase your conversion rates as customers have a limited amount of time to exit out of the shopping cart. It also gives your customers a better experience as they can use Shopify Pay across all Shopify stores, so checking out will be a lot less hassle for them, too, and it works on any device or browser.
Shopify Blog, Support & Experts
With great service comes great responsibility. Shopify recognizes how powerful their ecommerce software can be when their customers know how to properly use it, so they focus on educating Shopify users through their blog and support pages and offer additional assistance through their experts directory.
For any and every ecommerce related topic or question, Shopify has most likely covered it on their blog. With everything from knowledge, inspiration, announcements and updates to case studies, analytics, experiments and how-to’s, there’s something on their blog to pique everyone’s interests.
Their support pages give detailed instructions to help any Shopify user with even the smallest amount of computer know-how create their own store on Shopify. This is the best place to get answers to any technical questions that occur when setting up a store and it’s a great place to browse around as you’ll likely to find tips, tricks and solutions for design and development preferences you hadn’t yet considered. You really can take your store to the next level with the Shopify support pages and Shopify provides instructions so you can do it all yourself.
To make changes to your store that are more complex and you either can’t find your questions answered on the Shopify support pages or it has been listed as an advanced procedure, you can make use of the Shopify Experts team. These experts are, well, experts in their field, and for a fair price they can help you solve any technical issues to turn your store into what you want it to be, or to fix any issues you might be having. These experts are super handy to have around as they make the experience with Shopify an even higher caliber.
There you have it, our comprehensive review detailing the reasons why we think Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for any entrepreneur to use, no matter the business model, size or experience level. It’s inexpensive, easy to manage, hosted, and supports startups, large companies and every kind of business in between.
Their blog provides thorough support for users, plus they have a dedicated team of Shopify Experts available for hire to help you with various tasks related to your business. Their app store boasts the most innovative, relevant and up to date apps available for ecommerce stores, and they’re easy to integrate into all Shopify stores, making them operate more efficiently and effortlessly. Shopify is our preferred ecommerce platform, but don’t just take our word for it, try it out for yourself.
We just created a new brand
Having in mind that our SHOP IS FOR LIFE
when we create it for you
Yeah, simple wordplay
easy to remember though.
Would you write one article a week if I said you could make $118,000 in your first year? And $708,000 in revenue in year 2?
Would you do it?
After doing some research, I will write just one article a week, do some content promotion, and let Google do the heavy lifting for me. And just for funsies, I will do very little link building too (more on why in a moment).
Don’t believe me that traffic is worth $708,000?
Let’s do some quick math. The process I’m about to show you is something I use for all my clients.
Because if you know the true value of your work, you will know whether that investment is worth your time.
Here’s how I arrived at an estimated traffic value of $708,000:
- To go from 0 to 50,000/month visitors in year 1, I estimate I will receive 100,000 total visitors.
- If my traffic numbers stay flat at 50,000 visitors-a-month in year 2, I will receive 600,000 visitors.
- The average conversion rate of a website that uses content marketing is 2.9%. The average conversion rate of a site without a content strategy is 0.5%. For this example, let’s be conservative and use 2%. That means in year 1, I will get 2,000 new customers. In year 2, I will get 12,000 new customers.
- According to RJ Metrics, the average lifetime value of a customer in the fashion industry is $108. Again, let’s be conservative and drop that number in half to $59, because I am creating a new business.
- That means in year 1, I would generate $118,000 in revenue. And year 2 I would make $708,000 if no customers from year 1 buy from me again.
You can also use this for non-ecommerce businesses too. For example, Objeqt is an ecommerce conversion optimization agency I consult for. Instead of calculating direct sales from traffic, we estimated their conversion rates from traffic-to-leads, leads-to-clients, and the average lifetime value of a client.
Why do entrepreneurs over-complicate what should be simple?
Here are three possible reasons:
- We are obsessed with what’s new. Thus new is easier to sell to clients. So even though marketing has its challenge, it’s profitable to complicate it even more.
- It’s easy for someone to become an expert when the topic is a black box. Because we don’t know what’s inside the box, it’s hard to prove them right or wrong.
- We get frustrated following simple solutions to fix our problems. This leads us to believe the solution needs to be more complex than it is.
What Should You Include in Your Ecommerce Marketing Plan?
Here’s a 7-step framework to follow.
1. Know Your Main Goal.
The first step to a framework for your marketing plan is to know your goals.
As I said earlier, my goal is to grow traffic from 0 to 50,000 unique visitors a month. This helps me know what I want to do and what to say no to.
But it’s also important to know how you plan to accomplish your goal. That’s why you need to create a simple quant-based marketing plan.
In short, quant-based marketing helps you guess what you need to do to achieve your goal. Noah Kagan used quant-based marketing to launch Mint.com to over 1,000,000 users in six months.
To reach 50,000 visitors a month, I plan to create and promote one article a week.
2. Get Friendly With Your Customers.
Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. – Steve Jobs
Now that you know what your goal for content marketing is, you need to get an idea of who are the customers you are serving. This is called a “buyer persona.”
Buyer personas help you to create the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
Some people skip this step because they assume they already know their customers. That may be true. But you may be overlooking some of your audience and what problems they face. And if you don’t know your customers, how will you know that the content you create solves your customer’s problems?
Your customers know the answers to their problems better than you. So ask them.
If you have customers, you should survey them. Offer the last 300 customers who bought a product from you a chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card. Then have them fill out a survey, asking open-ended questions about who they are.
This gives you hard data about your customers. Don’t create personas based on who you think they are or what car they drive. Ask them.
Since I do not have customers, I will make an educated guess at who my customers will be. My target audience is males who are 25 to 35, single, interested in startups, marketing, and entrepreneurship, and either work in marketing agencies or own their own business.
To be clear, your target audience is not your entire audience.
My first customer might be a woman in tech and wants to wear a cool necktie to stand out at her first speaking gig. Or maybe he’s married, and his wife is looking to buy him a fun tie pattern for his first day at work.
Both of these potential buyers are not my target audience. But these buyers are not who I will write my content for because it will water down my message.
3. Find the Competition’s Weaknesses to Build Your Strengths.
[My father] taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer. – Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part II
Good research about your competition will help you know where opportunity lies to grow your business faster. Most companies make one critical mistake – they assume the competitors they know are the competitors their customers consider.
I cannot state this enough: Your customers know the answers to their problems better than you.
Read their 2 and 3-star reviews on Amazon, Yelp, or any other review site. What are customers complaining about? Is this a problem you would like to solve with your product or content? Then look at your competition in Google and what they are discussing.
4. Create a Keyword Research Plan to Easily Rank in Google.
Now that you know who your competitors are, learn how to easily out-maneuver and outrank the competition in Google.
Your goal is to find keyword phrases that your customers use and is easy to start getting traffic from Google.
Here’s an example how you can quickly find keywords to write content about. My friend Allen Walton runs Spy Guy Security and competes against Spy Gear Gadget and CheatersSpyShop.com (at the time of writing this business has closed, but it still holds a treasure trove of keywords).
I can use a tool like Ahrefs to look at their organic keywords and remove any keywords with a difficulty score (or “KD”) over 30.
I chose a maximum KD score of 30 for three reasons:
- Multiple sites I’ve studied outside of fiercely competitive B2B niches aim for high traffic keywords with scores of 30 or less.
- Ahrefs suggests this number (this is less valuable to me than #1).
- You gotta make some number a cut off.
Next, go through each keyword directly on Google. If you have a lot of keywords, I recommend looking for how easy it is to get into the top five spots in Google.
You can do this by:
- Comparing how thorough and useful the content is that ranks for your keyword.
- Looking at how established the competition sites are. It’s possible to outrank Forbes, Business Insider, or Entrepreneur, but it’s even easier to outrank Ole Joe Blow’s blog.
- Asking yourself how well do they follow the steps I layout in this article.
You will want to have enough keywords to fill your content calendar. I plan to create one article a week. Thus I will need 52 keywords that fit my criteria. Once you have a list of keywords to target, you should focus on how fast you think you can get the most traffic.
For example, in general, you should target a keyword that gets 5,000 searches a month before a keyword that gets 2,500 searches a month. That is unless you get into the 1st spot of the 2,500/month keyword.
5. Create Truly Useful Content.
Okay. You’ve got the keywords you want to target. Now, what should you write about?
To start, you need to write the best answer to your customers’ questions. Put yourself in a customer’s shoes. What would you want to know if you were doing research on this topic?
For example, when I wrote an article on how to reach out to influencers, I wanted to know what subject lines work best, what to include in an email to increase response rates, and how to follow up effectively without spamming someone.
Second, I asked my fellow peers on what they do. Not only did they backup and enhance my ideas, but I also discovered new topics I had not thought of, like adding value before you make an ask. This step is optional but worth doing if you are writing on competitive topics.
Third, I look at other articles written on this topic. This will help you find gaps in your content, and in your competitor’s content.
Fourth, I want to make my article useful. A solid article should lead potential customers to a solution to their problem. Creating a list of 120 possible solutions isn’t useful if your customer only needs one solution.
That’s not to say you can’t do a list post effectively. Here’s a list post I did on the five types of influencers. It’s helpful because you cannot treat each type of influencer in the same way and expect the same results. Massive list posts can work too. If someone wanted to get creative with their tie know-how, they would find this list of 50 cool neckties to master helpful.
Finally, you should find out what content is already working and use parts of it to make your content shine. As Aaron and I have talked about before, part of the 80-20 of content marketing is to use proven content.
Here are four easy ways to find proven content:
- Buzzsumo is a great tool to find the most shared content on any topic.
- Reddit is a forum of forums, called subreddits. You can look at each subreddit to see what topics get the most votes and comments.
- Like a Q&A (and “PG”) version of Reddit, Quora allows users to ask the community questions based on many topics. Simply look for questions with 50 or more followers.
- Stack Exchange began as a Q&A platform for programmers. Since then, it has expanded to over 160 communities, with topics ranging from personal finance to martial arts.
If for some reason you still need more ideas, check out this guide with 11 free ways to find proven content.
Pro-tip: Be sure to add your keyword phrase in your headline. It’s assumed keywords closer to the beginning of the title are considered higher.
Once you’ve completed those five steps to creating great content, now you will need to promote it.
6. Promote the Content.
You pour your heart into creating the best content on the web, but if you write an article in a forest and nobody’s around to read it, was it ever written?
Look. The traffic fairies (or Google) will not bless you with a massive audience simply because you hit publish. Some bloggers spend as much time promoting content as they do writing it. Others, like Derek Halpern, suggest you need to spend 80% of your time promoting content, and 20% writing it.
But when it comes to promoting content, SEO is the most effective traffic source to scale. There are five ways people come to your site:
- Direct (a visitor types in your URL).
- Email (a click from an email).
- Referral (a click from another site).
- Social (a click from a social media site).
- Organic Search (a click from a search engine).
Direct traffic is rare. I occasionally type in a URL into a search, and I assume the same is true with you. Most direct traffic is thought to be search traffic.
Email traffic is often a secondary traffic source. In other words, 90% of the time email traffic comes as a result of other traffic. What’s worse, even at a 5% click-through rate (which is high) sent to 10,000 emails, that’s only 500 clicks.
Referral traffic is also crap. Most articles tend to get a 2% click rate. Even on a popular article with 5,000 views, that’s 100 clicks. Do you spell what I’m steppin’ in?
Social traffic is great… if you know how to create content that can truly ‘go viral.’ In other words, if you plan on becoming the next Buzzfeed, then go for it. But while social traffic is a good starter, it’s hard to scale it without doing a pay-to-play model.
But organic traffic is where the big boys play. When done right, Google sends you traffic for months after you’ve finished the work.
There are also five scalable ways to get new customers. Scaling sales is rare in ecommerce. Virality is only possible with a high Net Promoter Score, which is hard to do without initial traffic and almost impossible without a stellar product. There’s also the random mega partnership, but that’s extremely rare.
That leaves us with PPC and SEO. Many ecommerce stores do PPC. And while some ecommerce stores do content marketing, most solid content marketing for ecommerce has been in the form of product pages or a YouTube channel. And when everyone zigs, I zag. So that’s why I will spend my time on SEO.
Now here’s where things get spicy. Rather than focusing on the 200 (supposed) ranking factors Google uses, I am going to ignore almost all of them.
Instead, after creating the best content on a topic, I will mainly focus on three things for SEO:
- Solid keyword research.
- A burst of traffic.
- Internal links.
Don’t believe me that this will work? Dan Shure of Evolving SEO wrote an article targeting a keyword with the largest keyword search volume was 70. The article got 2,284 clicks in less than 90 days:
Hey i think this SEO thing works. 2,000+ clicks to one piece of content in a *very* niche market in less than 90 days (no link building) pic.twitter.com/MAE8vAWvhc
— Dan Shure (@dan_shure) May 17, 2017
Even still, I was skeptical, so I grilled Dan for more information. Here’s what I found out in our email conversation:
- Was the keyword you targeted trending at all? No, fairly flat, non-seasonal keyword.
- Did you do any internal linking? Nothing beyond the normal/standard WordPress blog links.
- What’s the Ahrefs keyword difficulty score? 0. The SEMrush difficulty is 60.
- Did you get any nofollow links such as reddit, Growth Hackers, or Inbound? Moz does not show any links at all (old or fresh), just internal links.
- Were there any other things that you attribute to the success outside of solid keyword research? Just coaching the writer on creating the best piece of content to answer the query! In this case, creating the most complete list ever compiled.
(BTW, Dan talks about the 80-20 of SEO in this interview here).
This further supports my hypothesis. If your keyword research game is strong, it’s a lot easier to grow search traffic fast. I do this by climbing up the SEO chain. I start by targeting 3-5 low competition keyword terms. After getting some traffic from those terms, after 90 days, I optimize the article for a more competitive keyword that gets more traffic.
The burst of traffic helps Google to know to crawl your site. To do this, I plan on promoting the article in a few communities, such as Reddit, LinkedIn groups, and Facebook groups.
I believe internal links are important for three reasons:
- Internal links allow customers to click to other relevant articles. Even at a 1% click through rate, if 1,000 people visit one article a month, that’s 100 free clicks per month. More importantly, the longer a potential customer stays on your site, the more they grow to know, like, and trust you to do business. Money!
- By creating a category page, I can compete on a more competitive term with internal links and a brief summary of each post. It might not work, which is why you should test things for yourself. Here’s what I did on my category page influencer marketing.
- Internal links help Google learn what topics you cover on your website and index it accordingly.
After finishing all of my research, it’s time to pick my platform.
7. Bigcommerce vs. Shopify vs. WooCommerce: How I Chose My Ecommerce Platform.
When choosing an ecommerce platform, there are many things to consider, such as:
- How will the platform help or hurt SEO?
- How easy will it be to scale the site as the business grows?
- How secure is the site?
- What tools can help scale growth?
- What is the support like?
I know some of the marketers at BigCommerce (Nigel Stevens, Tracey Wallace, and Casey Armstrong, whom I’ve interviewed) and Shopify (Tommy Walker, Hana Abaza, Shanelle Mullin, and Aaron Orendorff, whom I’ve also interviewed). As for WooCommerce, I know no one.
Each of their reputations as marketers says something about the company. Because smart marketers also invest into their products, knowing that while growth is good, retention is forever.
As an influencer marketer, I also value the relationships. While I do not expect any of them to help me, there is a greater chance to help each other out if I know them. This may be a guest post, a case study, or many other possibilities. Since I know no one at WooCommerce, I removed them from the list.
After trying Shopify and BigCommerce, BigCommerce does a better job helping you with SEO. It’s a lot easier to create categories, subcategories, modify the URL, and create a great user experience for your customers. I also enjoyed the user experience of BigCommerce setting up the store over Shopify.
This is not an in-depth comparison between each of the platforms. Rather it’s something I spent some time on and will now move on.
Although BigCommerce has a built-in blog, I plan to use WordPress because I know what I need to make a WordPress blog successful. If you plan on doing the same, here’s how to setup a WordPress blog on BigCommerce.
My Ecommerce Content Marketing Plan Checklist
There’s a lot of information to process in this guide, so here’s a quick checklist you can go through:
- What is the ROI of my work?
- What do I need to do to achieve that goal?
- Buyer Personas
- Can I survey my customers to know the questions I need to answer?
- Since I don’t have customers, what questions do I assume they would like answered?
- Competitor Research
- If you have customers, who do they say are your competitors?
- If you don’t have customers, who are five competitors you know about?
- Keyword Research
- Look for keywords that are easy to rank.
- Prioritize them by which words you think will get you more traffic faster.
- Creating Content
- Offer the best answer to your customers’ questions.
- Ask other industry experts.
- Look at other articles written on the topic to find gaps in your content, and in their content.
- Make your article thorough and useful.
- Find proven content to borrow ideas from.
- Stack Exchange
- Content Promotion
- Solid keyword research.
- A burst of traffic.
- Internal links.
- Optional: Partner with influencers
Creating an effective marketing plan takes time but once complete, you should not need to revisit your plan often. If you decide to copy this strategy to start your own ecommerce store, I encourage you to do so!
But know this: my goal is not to take a brand new site to go from 0 to 50,000 visitors a month. My goal is to simulate what it would be like growing an established ecommerce website using blog content to grow from 0 to 50,000 visitors a month.
So in the interest of transparency, here are three things to keep in mind:
- My ecommerce website is not brand new. There is a theory that domain age plays a role in SEO. It’s not proven, but it may play a small role.
- At the time of this writing, Cofounders With Class’ domain authority is 23. Although that is small for a blog-based website, this is typical for established ecommerce sites I’ve seen.
- I have relationships with many marketers and entrepreneurs, but no known relationships in the style industry. I do not plan to use my network to actively build new relationships but the marketers I know may help me. If so, I will fully disclose that to you.
I’m curious to learn from you: What strategies and tactics do you use to increase site traffic? In what ways have you seen people over-complicate marketing?
When building your ecommerce business, graphic design resources such as stock photos, logo design services, image editing softwares, and color pallet communities are helpful ways to create a professional looking and well rounded site, however, knowing what services are available and filtering through clumsy websites to find the quality ones can become time consuming. Unless you’re in the know, finding vetted services through a simple Google search can quickly become overwhelming, so we’ve come up with a solution.
These are the tools we use, and tools other industry professionals use, to create stand-out websites that are beautiful, well imaged, optimized, and attractive to our customers. These are the top recommended graphic design resources to use for your business.
Imagery is often the ultimate attraction to a potential customer, so it’s worth your while to provide eye catching imagery on your website. There are two types of imagery to have: product photos and lifestyle shots. Product photos are simply photos of your products, usually set against a neutral background. These photos you can take yourself, especially if you follow our DIY Product Photography blog post tutorial, but using stock images won’t be the right fit for this purpose.
What you want to use stock images for are lifestyle shots. Lifestyle shots give your potential customers an example of how your product fits into their everyday life, or sets a scene that tells a story or provides the appropriate ambience for your brand.
For example, Ikea will have isolated product photos on neutral backgrounds so you can examine the product for its details without distraction, but they’ll also style it in a room so you can see how it would look in your house.
If you aren’t particularly skilled at photography, don’t have the proper equipment or can’t hire a professional, stock photos are a great resource to use when you’re starting out. There are hundreds of thousands of free images you can find via simple searches, the hardest part really is finding a quality website to search for these stock photos on.
There are plenty of websites that don’t provide quality photos or enough options, but the ones we’ve listed below are all vetted and offer top notch quality in various different categories, and best of all, not of them are free to use with no attribution to the photographer required. Get searching to help bring your website to life.
The resources listed under this category are mostly huge databases of images you can go to to search for literally any kind of photo. Hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands of photos make up each database, and they’re one of the first places you may want to look to get the largest selection of images available. All the other categories listed below offer resources that provide more personal or niche style of images which you’ll want to look into if you’re looking for a specific kind of image, but this category is stocked with all your stock photo needs.
500px (Free): For breathtaking photos and an interactive user sharing experience.
500px Marketplace (Premium): Royalty-free stock photos.
Alamy (Premium): Thousands of stock photos, vectors & videos.
All the Free Stock (Free): For free stock photos, videos, sound effects, icons & more.
A Prettier Web (Free & Premium): Styled desktop stock photos.
Barn Images (Free & Premium): A collection of free images & premium photo packs.
Best Stock Photo Free (Free): Interesting and free stock photos from various categories.
BlogPhoto.tv (Premium): High quality, original images for content creators.
Brusheezy (Free & Premium): Photoshop brushes.
Can We Image (Free): Simplified Wikimedia Commons search system.
Compfight (Free): Visual inspiration search tool.
Death to the Stock Photo (Free): Free photos & inspiration monthly.
DepositPhotos (Premium): Stock photos, royalty free images, vectors & footage.
Designer’s Pics (Free): Quirky high resolution images for commercial & personal use.
Dreamstime (Free & Premium): World’s largest stock community with 48 million images.
Every Stock Photo (Free): Featuring the Library of Congress and NASA free images.
Fancy Crave (Free): Driven to provide authentic, emotional, storytelling images.
Foter (Free): Millions of stock photos and the most popular public domain stock photo site.
Free Digital Photos (Free): Classic stock photography for business and personal use.
Free Images (Free & Premium): Hundreds of thousands of classic stock photos.
Freeepy (Free): Photos for commercial use.
Freepik (Free): Vectors, photos & PSD downloads.
Free Range Stock (Free): In-house images & archives plus thousands of exclusive photos.
Get Refe (Free): High quality, natural looking photos available individually or in packs.
Getty Images Embed (Free): For non-commercial websites and blogs.
Good Free Photos (Free): Public Domain images, clipart, vectors and more.
Gratisography (Free): Quirky high-resolution photos, new images added weekly.
HiResStock (Free & Premium): Stock photos for designers.
IM Free (Free): Images, templates & more.
ISO Republic (Free & Premium): Exclusive photos used by designers, bloggers & teams.
iStock (Free & Premium): Images, illustrations, videos, vectors and more.
JeShoots (Free & Premium): Stock photos & PSD mockups.
Kaboompics (Free): High quality photos, new images everyday.
LibreShot (Free): Downloadable photos for websites, blogs or print.
Morguefile (Free): Over 350,000 stock photos for creatives.
Negative Space (Free): New stock photos added weekly.
Offset (Premium): Royalty-free images from award winning creators.
PDPics (Free): Public domain pictures.
Pexels (Free): All the best free stock photos in one place.
PhotoDune (Premium): Royalty free stock photos & images.
Photo Pin (Free): Millions of photos for bloggers and creatives.
PicJumbo (Free): High quality stock photos in various categories.
Pickup Image (Free): High resolution image collection.
Pixabay (Free): Over 760,000 stock photos, illustrations and vectors.
Pixite Source (Free): Photos, textures and overlays available in several categories.
Public Domain Archive (Free): Vintage & modern public domain images for creative projects.
Re:Splashed (Free): Thousands of high-definition images for web & design projects.
Rgbstock (Free): More than 100,000 stock photos available.
Skitterphoto (Free): Public domain & stock photos for commercial use.
Snapwire (Free): Authentic, royalty free photos.
SplitShire (Free): Stylized images for commercial use.
Stock Image Point (Free): Personal photo collection for individual or commercial use.
The Stocks (Free): Royalty free stock photos, videos, mockups, icons & more.
StockSnap (Free): Hundreds of high resolution stock photos added weekly.
Stock Up (Free): Searches through over 14,000 images and 28 stock photo sites.
Stockvault (Free): Hundreds of photos, textures & illustrations added weekly.
StokPic (Free): Stock photos for commercial use.
TinyEye (Premium): Image search & recognition.
Unsplash (Free): High resolution photos with various curated collections.
Vecteezy (Free & Premium): Vector Art, stock graphics & more.
VectorStock (Free & Premium): 4.5 million royalty-free vectors.
Visual Hunt (Free): Search for high quality stock photos in one place.
WeGraphics (Free & Premium): Vectors, brushes, icons & more.
Wylio (Free): Creative Commons photo finder & re-sizer, attribution required.
These resources are specifically related to tools or imagery that businesses would want to use. Whether you want to create product mock ups or just want some images of people or teams working in offices, these resources cater specifically to that.
Dunnnk (Free): Generates mockups for Apple & Android products.
Graphic Burger (Free): Mockups, UI kits, icons, text effects, backgrounds and more.
InstaMockup (Free): Create beautiful product screenshots for iPad & iPhone.
Magic Mockups (Free): Real-life mockup generator.
Placeit (Free): iPhone mockup generator & app demo videos.
Really Good Emails (Free): An entire library of the best email designs.
Startup Stock Photos (Free): Business related photos for startups, bloggers and media.
Want professional food photos for your website? Need something specialty? Want some exquisitely styled photographs? These are the resources you want to use if you’re building your business in the niche food industry.
Foodies Feed (Free & Premium): Food photos in various food related categories, plus PSDs.
Food Shot (Free): High resolution food specific photos.
Free Food Photos (Free): Food stock images.
The Picture Pantry (Premium): Collection of food stock photography from the world’s finest photographers.
StockFood (Premium): Food media for creative professionals.
Similar to the “Everything” category mentioned above, however these photos are more personal and in some cases even rustic and homespun. Each resource here offers different subjects and styles, and you’ll want to take your time sorting through each page of photographs to find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s definitely worth the searching though, because these resources are full of character that may be exactly what you need to provide the right vibe for your site.
Cupcake (Free): Photos of nature, cityscapes, food and all things lifestyle.
Epicantus by Daria (Free): Beautifully rustic, homespun and neutral stylized images.
Epicva (Free): Team of photography enthusiasts supplying images in several categories.
Life of Pix (Free): High resolution, city-life images added weekly.
Lock and Stock (Free): Quirky stock photos in several lifestyle categories.
Magdeleine (Free): Hand picked photos of nature, cities and people for your inspiration
MMT (Free): Images of nature, offices, city details and other life moments.
Photo Stock Editor (Free): Quirky and bright images featuring life’s moments.
Picography (Free): Captivating lifestyle, travel and nature images.
RaumRot (Free): Stunning lifestyle imagery for modern creatives.
Realistic Shots (Free): Travel, technology and people are the forefront, every week.
Stocksy (Premium): Royalty-free stock photos, full of life’s energy.
Streetwill (Free): Vintage-inspired photos of everyday life.
Super Famous (Free): Quirky & artistic photos.
Travel & Nature
There’s a lot of passion behind each photograph these resources offer, which is a perfect way to depict exotic destinations to your potential customers. No need to travel worldwide to capture that wanderlust feeling for your website, these stock photos are exceptional and will have you covered.
Foto Di Spalle (Free): Collected images from locations around the world.
Free Nature Stock (Free): Nature stock photos updated daily.
Jay Mantri (Free): A combination of captivating city & nature photos.
Little Visuals (Free): Get 7 landscape & nature photos every 7 days.
Made in Moments (Premium): Travel stock photos.
Moveast (Free): Personal collection of curated travel images from around the world.
Paul Jarvis (Free): High resolution photos from moments in nature.
Pickup Image (Free): High resolution travel images & clipart.
Shutteroo (Free): Travel images & stock photos.
Travel Coffee Book (Free): Sharing beautiful travel moments.
Vintage, Patterns & Wallpapers
A few outliers in the stock photo categories, each of these resources is unique in its own way. For specific images that no photo database may provide, such as vintage photos, pattern imagery and even desktop wallpapers, these resources are here to offer you something you may not find elsewhere.
Ancestry Images (Free): Stock images for genealogy & ancestry researchers.
New Old Stock (Free): Vintage photos from public archives.
The Pattern Library (Free): High quality patterns.
Subtle Patterns (Free): High quality resource for tileable & textured patterns. PS plugin (paid).
UHDWallpapers (Free): High-definition wallpapers, desktop backgrounds & 4K images.
Vintage Stock Photos (Free): Vintage & retro stock photos from around the world.
Stock Audio & Video and Animation Maker
If a picture says a thousand words then how many must a video say? This may be a cliche phrase, however, it certainly works wonders in practice. Say more with a stock video that will loop on your website and create an ambiance for your visitors. Of course, creating your own videos can be time consuming, expensive and result in lackluster quality, so search through these databases to see what relevant videos you can find for your site.
Animatron (Free & Premium): Online animation maker, banner maker & video maker.
Audio Blocks (Premium): Royalty free music, sound effects & loops.
Coverr (Free): Beautiful videos for your homepage.
CriticalPast (Premium): Vintage stock footage, images & royalty-free archives.
Cute Stock Footage (Free): Stock videos, sound effects, overlays, textures and more.
Distill (Free): High-definition stock videos & video clips added every 10 days.
Mazwai (Free): Captivating videos of all categories, attribution may be required.
Pond5 (Premium): World’s largest HD & 4k stock video library, plus photos & audio.
Splasheo (Free): Make professional introduction videos.
Videezy (Free): Stock videos, 4k footage & high-definition clips.
Video Hive (Premium): Stock footage & video effects.
Videvo (Free): Stock videos and high-definition video clips.
Vimeo (Free): Collection of free, high-definition stock footage from Vimeo.
If you’re using high quality images on your site (which you should be) then you’ll likely be uploading images with large file sizes. The larger the file size, the longer it takes your website page to load, and the longer it takes to load the more time your visitors have to click off and go to another website. Users expect pages to load in a matter of seconds, so optimize your images properly and you won’t repel your potential customers.
Each of these resources helps you to shrink the file size of the image without getting rid of quality, so you can have properly optimized images that will load quickly for your customers. Using one of these services is really as easy as downloading their software, drag and drop your photo in and voila, they’ll shrink the file size and you can upload it right away to your website. Easy.
Compressor.io (Free): Compresses & optimizes images.
Image Optim (Free): Compresses & optimizes images.
Kraken (Free): Compresses & optimizes images.
SmallPDF (Free): Compress, convert & edit PDFs.
Smush.it (Free): Compresses & optimizes images.
TinyPNG (Free): Compresses & optimizes images.
Image Editing Programs
Adobe Photoshop can be intimidating to use for individuals who have no experience with image editing softwares, but these resources help you produce the same edited results without having to learn Photoshop. Depending on how you want to alter your image and what specifically you want done with it, peruse through the options below and find the one that’ll work best for you.
Adobe Photoshop (Premium): The world’s best imaging and design app, widely used by professionals & creatives.
Adobe Photoshop Express (Free): Edit photos using Adobe Photoshop on your phone.
Adobe Post (Free): Design custom social media images.
Canva (Free): An easy way to create and customize images with pre-made templates, layouts, texts and backgrounds for social media, blogs, presentations, thumbnails and posters in both PNG and JPG files.
Easel.ly (Free): Thousands of infographic templates to create and share visual ideas online.
Fotor (Free): Edit, collage or design images.
GIMP (Free): Sophisticated GNU image manipulation tool & cross-platform image editor.
Infogram (Free): Create infographics, charts & maps.
Jing (Free): Create desktop screenshots & video.
Landscape (Free): Simple & streamlines image resizing tool for social media.
Pablo (Free): Design engaging social media images easily with your own photos or from their stock of over 600,000.
PicLab (Free): Create text overlays & photo collages.
PicMonkey (Free & Premium): Online image editor.
Pixelmator (Premium): Full-featured image editor to enhance, touch-up, and add effects to images.
Pixlr (Free & Premium): A family of photo editing applications available for download.
Recite (Free): Quick and easy quote creating service for social sharing images.
Relay (Free & Premium): Create and edit images, schedule & engage with your audience.
Skitch (Free & Premium): Annotate, add shapes & sketch on photos & documents to make your point and provide feedback easily.
Smart Mockups (Free): Create product screenshots.
Snappa (Free & Premium): Quick & easy graphic design software.
Word Swag (Free): Add text to images.
Product Image Editing
These are the tools you’ll want to use to create seamless product photos. They’ll give you that neutral background, no matter where you actually took the photo and with what photography equipment, so your product photos will look top notch. Each of these resources offer professional quality image editing but not at professional prices.
Clipping Magic (Premium): Instantly remove product photo backgrounds.
Deepetch (Premium): World’s leading image editing service provider.
Pixc (Premium): Remove the background from product photos.
Remove the Background (Premium): Image background removal service.
Image Editing Help Resources
If you need help learning how to edit images (specifically through Adobe Photoshop) then take advantage of these resources below for tutorials. They do more than offer specific image editing tutorials, so stick around if you want to learn more about other ways you can enhance your business.
Photoshop Help Tutorials (Free): Specific to Adobe Photoshop, get answers to your most basic or sophisticated queries.
CreativeLive (Free): Workshops in creative fields provided by experts. See what’s on live today.
Skillshare (Premium): Classes in all subjects provided in bite-sized lessons for a boost of knowledge throughout your day.
Graphic Design Marketplaces
These marketplaces are the place to go to not only find images but also templates, logo designers, fonts, graphics, themes, and plenty more. These are your one-stop-shop, go-to’s for creative design on your website. They’re all super useful resources in their own way and are all worth checking out.
99 Designs (Premium): Find & work with logo, web, & graphic design freelancers online.
Behance (Free & Premium): Showcase & discover creative work in the graphic design, photography & illustration fields.
Bootflat (Free & Premium): Open source Flat UI Kit with a free PSD download for a faster, easier and less repetitive way for designers to create elegant web apps.
Creative Market (Premium): Ready-to-use design assets such as fonts, themes, graphics and images from independent creators
Deal Jumbo (Premium): Discounted design bundles with extended licenses.
Dribble (Free & Premium): Social network for creatives to show and tell, promote, discover, and explore designs.
FilterGrade (Premium): Photoshop actions & Lightroom presets for designers, photographers & bloggers.
Fiverr (Premium): Creative & professional services provided by freelancers including graphics & design, writing, advertising, music & audio, programming & tech, plus more.
Function (Free & Premium): Design blog facilitating resources & inspiration.
GraphicRiver (Premium): Huge collection of graphic assets including logos, fonts, icons and more.
Logo Design & Inspiration
Need a logo or want to have a look at some good ones? Check out these resources to help you out if you don’t want to completely make one from scratch or a template. These high quality resources are easy to use and you can come out with a stunning logo for much less of the cost than hiring a designer to make you one.
GraphicSprings (Free & Premium): Design a logo online
Logaster (Free & Premium): Online software for logo design.
LogoJoy (Premium): Artificial intelligence powered online logo maker.
Logopond (Free & Premium): Showcasing logo designs to inspire and improve talent through knowledge and experience.
Logoshi (Free & Premium): Fast & inexpensive logo maker.
Squarespace Logos (Free & Premium): Logos made simple.
Tailor Brands (Free & Premium): Interactive & customizable instant logo maker and online logo designs.
Withoomph (Free & Premium): Online instant logo design generator.
Fonts become a huge part of your branding and the overall look and feel of your website. The relay a sense of atmosphere to your customers and sometimes you’ll find you have to settle on conventional fonts because it’s all that’s on offer. Well not anymore, if you make use of these font resources! They specialize in providing quality fonts to help make your website look and feel better.
1001 Free Fonts (Free & Premium): Downloadable fonts in many different categories.
Adobe Typekit (Free & Premium): Marketplace for new & additional fonts for designs.
Behance Free Fonts (Free): Assorted selection of fonts.
DaFont (Free): Thousands of downloadable fonts.
Font Fabric (Free & Premium): High quality fonts for web, print or logos.
Font Library (Free): Catalogue of assorted fonts.
Font Squirrel (Free): Quality fonts available for commercial use.
Google Fonts (Free): Directory of open source designer web fonts.
The League of Moveable Type (Free): Well made, free & open source fonts.
Lost Type (Free & Premium): A source for unique typefaces.
MyFonts (Premium): Large library of assorted fonts.
What the Font (Free): Find specific fonts by uploading an image of what you’re looking for.
Color pallets play an important role in developing your website’s branding, which we wrote a whole blogpost about (you can read more on that here) in order to help you choose a color pallet, figure out which colors will work well with one another, how they’ll speak for your brand, and find their HEX code. Once you’ve read that, these resources can help you locate all things color that you’ll need to know to build a beautiful looking website.
0 to 255 (Free): A simple tool to help web designers find color variations.
Adobe Color CC (Free): Adobe color wheel & color schemes.
BrandColors (Free): Color codes used by famous brands.
Design Seeds (Free): Color pallet inspiration.
Flat Color Picker (Free): Best flat colors for UI design.
Flat UI Colors (Free): Small web app to help you copy colors from Flat UI.
Get UI Colors (Free): Get awesome UI colors for your website.
HEX Colorrrs (Free): HEX to RGB converter.
Material Palette (Free): Material design color palette generator.
Material UI Colors (Free): Material design colors, material colors & color palettes.
Paletton (Free): Color scheme designer.
Skala Color (Free): Color picker for designers & developers.
Icons are useful for working into logos or as images on your website, depending on your own unique style. Search through the copious amounts of icons you can find in these resources to get an idea of what’s on offer and you’ll find yourself reasons to work them into your store. There are useful tool that many people forget about using but can really pack a punch when used effectively.
Endless Icons (Free): Free icon library.
Flat Icon (Free): Vector icons available in SVG, PSD, EPS, & icon font.
Font Awesome (Free & Premium): Icon font & CSS toolkit.
Fontello (Free): Icon fonts generator.
GlyphSearch (Free): Search for icons from various services to find what you’re looking for.
IcoMoon (Free & Premium): Icon fonts & SVG icon sets.
InconApp (Premium): Search for, organize and use icons.
Icon Finder (Free & Premium): Over a million icons & thousands of icon sets.
Icon Monstr (Free): Thousands of simple icons in hundreds of collections.
IconSweets2 (Premium): Huge set of minimal icons for any project.
MakeAppIcon (Premium): Icon resizer for mobile app developers.
Material Design Icons (Free & Premium): Icon collections in the format, size & color for any project.
Perfect Icons (Free): The easiest way to create resolution independent social icons.
The Noun Project (Premium): Icons for everything.
Deals on Design Resources
If you’ve scoured all the free design resources and you’re ready to move onto the premium market, it’s no secret that some of the stuff out there can really take its toll on your wallet. Have no fear, use these resources to get discounted access to some of the more premium, high end and exclusive design related tools so you can up your game without taking a hard hit on your bank account.
App Sumo (Premium): Offers & discounts on varying tools & resources for creative professionals.
Design Cuts (Premium): Discounted design bundles for creative professionals.
MightyDeals (Premium): Exclusive deals for web professionals.
My Design Deals (Premium): Daily deals for graphic designers & creative professionals.
With these 200+ graphic design resources you now have endless tools to help you create a visually stunning ecommerce website. Each of these services will help you to provide a more friendly user experience for your visitors, and they can help bring your brand story to life. Creating captivating graphics is an achievable feat, even if you have no professional experience or training, so take advantage of what these resources can offer you and start building a more beautiful website.
In this first ecommerce monthly roundup here at a A Better Lemonade Stand, we wanted to bring you some of the most noteworthy news, resources and interesting tidbits that you may have missed around the internet this month in order to help you better your business and keep you more informed about the ecommerce world.
First off, April was a jam-packed month of major announcements from Shopify and Facebook at their annual developer conferences with huge updates on both of their respective platforms. These developer conferences are a great way to get a peek into what’s coming up in the near future as developers are introduced to new tools and capabilities; so we wanted to cover a bit of what went down at these conferences.
We also wanted to share a bunch of news updates across all platforms and marketing channels. These are the quick highlights to help you get a grasp on what’s new in the ever changing world of ecommerce.
Finally, every roundup will also include resources and blog posts that are just too good to only read once. These are our favorites posts and some of them may include ones published here on ABLS. Bookmark these, these are the gems we think are worth revisiting.
Marijuana Goes Industrial in California
Date: April 15, 2017 Author: Thomas Fuller
A consumer trend we’re highlighting this April is the quickly growing and expanding cannabis industry. Thomas Fuller from the New York Times gives us one perspective into the fascinating backstory of farmers and retailers in the state of California. Though the subject may be too taboo for some, the legalization of cannabis will present interesting and new opportunities for merchants who provide solutions for this new class of agricultural entrepreneurs – and not necessarily just those interested in selling marijuana.
Date: April 1, 2017 Author: Various
Another consumer trend we’re highlighting in April comes straight out of TrendWatching’s quarterly update on consumer trends. This update is specifically on the topic of “Truthful Consumerism,” or another words, how do you navigate your business or brand in a world of polarized political headlines and fake news? The good news, that all the good things your brand may represent still applies: positive impacts, tolerance and empowerment.
Everything We Announced at Unite 2017 (And What It Means For Merchants)
Date: April 24, 2017 Author: Braveen Kumar
The second annual Shopify Unite in San Francisco occurred with some big announcements for merchants on their platform. This post by Braveen Kumar summarizes the top 11 huge announcements that you may want to check out. Some of the highlights include: Shopify Pay, a new Chip & Swipe reader, more channel integrations (including Buzzfeed), a better discount system, and more. Check out the post to read about the other 10 announcements from the event.
Facebook F8 2017 – What Marketers Need to Know
Date: April 20, 2017 Author: Karola Karlson
Facebook’s big developer conference also happened in April and according to statistics, the two biggest platforms where most ecommerce businesses spend money on marketing is Facebook (and Instagram) and Google. This posts summarizes the announcements from Facebook F8 from a marketer’s perspective and shares the things you need to know as a marketer on their platform.
Facebook and Google Completely Dominate the Digital Ad Industry
Date: April 26, 2017 Author: Alex Heath
Everyone knows that Facebook and Google are major platforms for advertising, but it wasn’t apparent that they pretty much took all the growth in advertising in the last year. In fact, according to this report, Facebook and Google captured a combined 77% of gross spending in 2016!
Snapchat Introduces World Lenses – Live Filters for Just About Anything
Date: April 18, 2017 Author: Darrell Etherington
Since the Snapchat IPO, the company has seen some of its main features like stories and filters get copied by Facebook and Instagram. This is especially crushing for the company that stated that their main strategy is building new products. In align with their strategy, Snapchat recently announced “World Lenses” which is a 3D object you can place in their augmented reality camera. We’ll see if Facebook will copy this feature next!
UPS Talks About Its New Saturday Ground Pickup, Delivery
Date: April 13, 2017 Author: Mike O’Brien
For the many merchants that use UPS as their carrier of choice, UPS recently did a test of Saturday deliveries to stay competitive with the likes of FedEx and USPS. If you use UPS, this conversation with UPS VP of Marketing, Jerome Roberts, is one to catch up on.
BigCommerce CEO on Amazon, Other Channels
Date: April 12, 2017 Author: Kerry Murdock
BigCommerce has reaffirmed its strategic partnership with eBay and other channels like Amazon to help enable the merchants on their platform to sell in other marketplaces besides their own website. This interview with BigCommerce’s CEO, Brent Bellm, gives you some insight into his thinking of how you can approach selling your items in marketplaces, and most notably, how you should navigate in marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
How to Create a Facebook Ad Collection
Date: April 5, 2017 Author: Jon Loomer
This is an excellent step-by-step guide by Jon Loomer to help you start using the new ad format that Facebook recently introduced called “Collections.” If you’re not familiar with Collections, this new ad format is a combination of a feature image, slideshow or video overtop of a group of product images with direct links to each product. It’s perfect for ecommerce sites because it gives you the hybrid of a rich media experience but you’re still able to present product focused links related to the image.
Shopify App Review: Fomo
Date: April 13, 2017 Author: Stewart Anderson
This review by Stewart Anderson on popular app FOMO, formerly called Notify until it was acquired by Justin Mares and further developed by his team, dives deep into the topic of social proof and how the FOMO app works to drive customers to make purchases. Have a read of this review and see if FOMO might be a good fit for your store.
Step-by-Step: How to Start 11 Different Types of Ecommerce Businesses
Date: April 4, 2017 Author: A Better Lemonade Stand
Not sure what kind of ecommerce business to start? This article by yours truly, A Better Lemonade Stand, introduces you to 11 different kinds of ecommerce businesses and more detailed information on how to start them. If you’re excited to start your own ecommerce business but haven’t decided on what to sell yet, read this post for both inspiration and detailed step-by-step guides to get started.
The Rules for Creating Quality Ecommerce Content on Instagram
Date: April 19, 2017 Author: Jonathan Chan
For a lot of ecommerce businesses, Instagram is an important channel to master since the medium has over 700M users AND is a visual platform. It’s the closest thing to having a beautiful storefront display on a busy intersection. Jonathan Chan walks us through the mental thought processes he uses to approach marketing on Instagram with his four rules.
15 Ways Web Push Notifications Can Help Increase Your E-Commerce Conversions
Date: April 5, 2017 Author: Kaustuva Bhattacharjee
Another powerful yet underutilized channel in digital marketing is Web Push Notifications. You have all seen push notifications on your smartphone, but the latest modern browsers also allow a similar experience for sites you opt into. Kaustuva walks us through the concept of push notifications for the web and 15 different ways to leverage them in your ecommerce business. Check this post out and explore some of their examples to test it out for yourself.
As an experiment, we decided to feature ecommerce businesses that are for sale. If you have more capital than time to build up an ecommerce business, or you already own an ecommerce business and are looking to expand, then this listing may be interesting to you.
Beauty & Cosmetics Ecommerce Business For Sale
Date: April 18, 2017 Author: Empire Flippers
Beauty and Cosmetics is one of the top growing categories in ecommerce so consider this listing on Empire Flippers. It has a few interesting opportunities: an average monthly revenue of $11,912 with $5,313 in expenses, netting you an average gross profit of $6,599. Being built on WordPress, there may be ways to improve the SEO and add additional selling channels. This business also appears to be an Australian website, so bringing this to a bigger market like North America may be worth investigating.
This concludes our first roundup on A Better Lemonade Stand and has brought to you what we’ve noticed as the ecommerce highlights for the month of April. The ecommerce space is constantly evolving so in order to evolve with it and make the best decisions for your business it’s important to stay informed. Have a read of some of these blog posts, check out the resources and learn more about what’s new in ecommerce so you can stay up to date and ahead of the curve.
What are your favorite bits of news, resources and tools for the month of April?
One of the greatest opportunities in ecommerce comes from selling on Amazon.
The best opportunities lie behind long-tail searches and niche product ideas with significant demand.
An ever-increasing worry for Amazon sellers is rising competition and getting started. Sellers want to minimize risk, and ensure they win a big slice of the Amazon pie.
The good news is, this all starts with one very important piece of work. Product research. Even better news, I am going to show you how to ensure you’re doing effective product research.
Finding the “Right” Product
Most successful Amazon sellers today have learnt this the hard way, through trial and error. I know this because it’s how I became a successful ecommerce owner.
That is why Jungle Scout was created: to help entrepreneurs with the most sophisticated tools and the most accurate data, but also with free resources, training and guidance.
I would advise you spend around 20 hours on product research, and follow the helpful tips in this guide along the way.
These are the exact strategies that I use when doing my own product research. I used these tactics to launch Jungle Stix, our collaborative launch product, which racked up over $200k in sales within the first year. Since then, I’ve launched a Million Dollar Case Study, with even more strategies and insights planned for the year ahead.
Let’s Start With Some Basics
Here are some basic criteria that you need to engrain into your mind as a product researcher. Every time you are looking at a product idea you should always be on the look out for the following:
- Price: Products should be in the $20 – $75 price bracket, anything below $20 can have profitability issues, and anything too expensive means spending much more to get started.
- Shippable: Look for durable and simple products that are not oversized and avoid fragile products.
- Sourceable: You should be able to find the product on Alibaba (Read more about how to source products from Alibaba), Global Sources or other, similar supplier directories.
- Seasonality: Ideally, your products will bring in year-round sales. TIP: Use Google Trends to identify seasonality trends for keywords at the click of a button.
In-Depth Research & Advanced Criteria
Some people may stop there but no, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Although I am calling this advanced criteria, consider it necessary advanced criteria.
This is where active research and analysis comes into play.
Ideal products should meet all of the following criteria:
1. Consistent & Sufficient Demand (greater than 400 sales/month)
You need to know that potential products are already selling on Amazon. Verifying demand is so important. I like to see at least 2000 sales per month amongst the top 10 sellers of a given product idea, or around 400 sales per month per product.
If you haven’t got Jungle Scout yet, you can also check out our free Jungle Scout sales estimator to get you started. It’s available across several marketplaces too!
2. Limited Competition
As the new seller of this potential product, you have got to go up against some competition. Especially when delving into a new niche, you need to find products where there is space in the market for a new seller. Look for products where the top competitor listings have less than 100 reviews, or even less than 50 reviews.
3. The “Weirdness Test”
Popular products can bring so many barriers for entry, such as high competition or legal and trademark issues. Seek out obscure products with demand that are not readily available in brick and mortar stores. You’d be surprised what weird and wonderful products sellers make the most money from.
4. High Profit Margins
I may seem obvious but we need to know that we can make a profit. It’s easy to forget
this important piece when getting carried away with finding new products. Seek out products that you can sell for at least $20 and start to gather some rough estimates on FBA fees, shipping and production costs.
How to Really Gain Competitive Edge
Many, though not all, of your competitors will be using the same criteria as explained above to source new product ideas. So let’s try some optional (but advisable) tactics to really dig and find some product idea gold dust!
1. Find a Product With High Sales & Low Ratings
Scout out successful products that have a low rating. For example, a product that sells 300-400 items per month, but has a rating of 3.8 or below.
Why? These are products with great demand, but have an average of low rating reviews, which means there is potentially an opportunity for you to increase quality or add value.
2. Enter a Niche That is Less Mature
Competition can be a huge worry for new sellers. Why not seek out products with demand that have few reviews? Try searching for products with a high sales volume and 40 or less reviews.
This means it won’t be so much work to gain some traction in this niche, and you won’t be playing catch up for too long trying to gain hundreds of reviews.
3. Spy on the Competition
The final tip is to find opportunities by searching for private label sellers and checking out their storefronts. Identify their top selling products and look for opportunities that you can replicate or improve.
You can do this manually right on Amazon if you like, or you can use the Jungle Scout Web App to filter for products that only have one seller.
How to Do It
These tactics above are a great example of thinking outside of the box. There’s always a way to reverse engineer something. That’s exactly what we did with the Jungle Scout Product Database. Part of the Web App, it’s a powerful catalog of products created for Amazon sellers.
It allows you to use smart filters to find product ideas in seconds. You could utilize it for all three of these methods by filtering it by estimated sales, ratings, number of reviews and number of sellers!
There are also some filters available in the Jungle Scout Pro Chrome Extension, which allow you to spot opportunities whilst browsing Amazon categories and sub-categories, or searching for products on Amazon:
This isn’t all about Jungle Scout though. You could also start your hunt for product ideas in numerous places, for example:
- Amazon Best Sellers List: This is a great place to start. There will be lots of inspiration, but also high competition. From there you can drill down into Amazon subcategories.
- Reddit: Delve into “subreddits” (topic forums) for weird and wonderful ideas
- eBay: And other marketplaces too, check them out for ideas.
- Alibaba: Start your search right where the manufacturers and suppliers are.
- Alltop: Find hot niches using this handy blog aggregator.
- Flippa: Get some ideas from thousands of niche websites that are up for sale
- The Jungle Scout list of over 1000 niches.
- Keyword Tools: Such as Google’s KW Planner, or LSI Graph, which can help you drill down into a niche with related search terms and more ideas.
Then use the free Jungle Scout estimator to get your product sales estimates!
Add Value & Always Aim For Quality
I recently surveyed thousands of Amazon sellers and one interesting fact was that the majority of successful sellers were not seeking to find cheaper supplier alternatives.
It is always better to try and find opportunities where you can add value and/or quality – which often means having a higher price point, but a better product overall.
It’s not a race to the bottom, it’s a race to be the best.
Once you find products using all of the criteria and tactics explained above, find ways to improve. Read customer reviews to find out what issues a product faces and find out if you can resolve them.
It could be that a product is lower in quality or not large enough. Or you might find a way to add value by adding in an extra added freebie. For example, in our Million Dollar Case Study, I considered adding an extra wash cloth with our Baby Hooded Towels to use up the excess material.
Since you are striving for quality and value, it’s a good opportunity to go in with a better product listing and better photographer than your competitors. From here you can focus on your marketing efforts to gain more organic reviews and a better rating, all of which will be beneficial towards your rank and sales velocity.
15 High Potential Product Ideas
Now that you have the basics down on how to find products, let’s dive in and get some product ideas. I want to use the basic strategies that I outlined above and investigate some example products that fit the criteria. The easiest way to do this is by using the Jungle Scout Web App as it will make this process quicker and easier to understand. I want to take a look at some real ideas to contextualize the methods shared above. This should help to get your mind working in the way it needs to in order to uncover product opportunities.
Just to give you a short peek into the shortcut that I used, I entered my criteria into Jungle Scout’s Web App (Minimum Price of $18, with more than 300 sales per month, and less than 50 reviews). It looks like this:
From here, I filtered the database and got a bunch of product ideas that meet this criteria. Here’s how my results looked:
I’ve pulled out a list of ideas and niches that caught my interest and look like they have potential. They are:
- Aquarium Gravel Cleaners
- Award Ribbons
- Balance Disc
- Burlap Race Bags
- Burlap Table Runner
- Dish Rack
- Hookah Hose
- Letter Tray
- Masking Tape
- Party Props
- Play Parachute
- Prize Wheel
- Serving Platter
- Stroller Pad
- Trekking Pole
This gives you an idea of how quickly you can generate a similar list with the Web App. Now let’s take a closer look at these and dig a little deeper.
Here’s a screenshot of the result as I found it in the Product Database.In addition to generating the product idea itself, I can get some valuable information that helps me quickly understand if the product has potential, and if it merits further research.
A quick overview for the Aquarium Cleaner:
- This product has a lot of sales – almost 500 a month, at a nice price point.
- Fees are relatively high, $13, as it is a standard (large) size.
- Seems fairly straightforward to manufacture – quality control shouldn’t be an issue when getting it manufactured.
- These sales are generated despite having only 13 reviews. I imagine that I could get that many reviews quickly with a few promotions and then presumably I would be ranking for the keyword as well and get some of the sales that this product is capturing.
- Nice sales, not many reviews, and good profits per sale.
- It is hard to tell exactly what it is from the main image. Could I get more clicks on my listing with a different graphic? If so, that’s a nice way to break into this niche.
- A simple product to manufacture and decent sales.
- Is this product too easy to purchase at a local store so much so that people wouldn’t decide to purchase it on Amazon?
- How competitive or crowded is the niche? I would want to look into the search results for “Letter Tray Organizer” to do further due diligence.
- Are there ways to market this to other customer segments via keyword research and optimize the listing to reach more promising niches with this product?
- Only 2 reviews and 400 sales per month. Wow! This is looking good from the outset.
- Looks like smart marketing–including a variety of colors and award types, bundling it together so that they could charge $30.
- This is probably very easy to manufacture – can’t really mess this up!
- Very light packaging – less than a pound, so less shipping costs presumably.
- I would want to pursue this niche–is there demand for these in general? Is there enough room for a new entrant, or a different type of ribbon or award to offer?
- Wow, there is a lot of sales for this product! Almost 20 a day.
- It is oversized, so the fees are steep ($21 per unit sold), but that still leaves $38 net profit per unit.
- A higher price point is usually less competitive with private label sellers, and at $60, there are fewer competitors.
- The Listing Quality Score (LQS) is 53 out of 100. This is a proprietary Jungle Scout rating but shows some room for improvement with the listing.
- This is a simple product to manufacture and source, yet sells very well. I assume that there is a variety of styles and shapes that I could source to offer a differentiated product yet still tap into the demand for “tiered cake tray stands”.
- $30 is a nice price point, and likely fewer sellers. I would want to explore what the other sellers are offering, the keywords they are targeting and which types of tray stands sell the best.
- They could use more images – an easy way to improve on the listing?
- I included the Jungle Scout Extension data above. This is an easy way to identify which variants I would want to include. In this case, there is a variety of colors that sell well. By looking at the Best Seller Rank, I can see which one is most popular.
Burlap Table Runner & Burlap Sacks
- I don’t know off-hand how much burlap costs, but my initial guess is that this is selling at a handsome markup. I would want to look into sourcing and costs for this.
- Does the niche as a whole sell well? I would want to look at the metrics for “burlap race sack” and how those sellers are faring.
- Below is the Jungle Scout data, showing how the top results for “burlap race sack” are doing.
- It looks like some sellers with very few reviews are in the top 10 sellers which means there’s an opportunity to rank for the top keywords relatively quickly!
- A straightforward product to manufacture, and presumably not very expensive. Yet it sells for $25.
- It is a relatively “unsexy” product, so probably less saturated and competitive amongst other private label sellers. That is where the best opportunities are.
- This product is selling well, yet doesn’t have any reviews. Perhaps they were running some promotions, but that is good news for a new potential seller because it is selling well. Imagine if the listing had just a bit of social proof in reviews? A nice boost of social proof would presumably increase conversion rates.
- Currently out of stock, and still selling more than 10 units per day. And only 5 reviews. This is a new product in the niche, and has sold well. An opportunity for a new entrant!
- The product photos don’t look like they are high quality–there are only four photos, they are relatively dark and clearly not professionally taken. It wouldn’t be hard to take better photos and create a better listing.
Bachelorette Photo Props
- Could this be improved by including different accessories in the props kit?
- Could I target other occasions, like bachelor parties, office parties, weddings, etc with photo booth props? I would want to look at Alibaba or AliExpress to see what is easily sourceable and what people are already selling.
- This product is selling well and doesn’t have any reviews. Is it a crowded niche, or one with lots of demand and limited competition selling relevant products?
- This looks like a robust listing: lots of colorful photos, good keywords and product title, yet still selling well and only 10 reviews. Is there a lot of demand that is still unmet?
- What do the negative reviews say about the product? Only 10 reviews and 4 stars is not great for this seller–maybe I can capitalize on the negative reviews and learn what the shortcomings of the product are and create an improved offering.
Child Car Seat Saver
- Products targeting new parents are often very popular, as new parents are willing to spend money and purchase products that help them and their kids. A simple waterproof liner like this is a great example.
- I would want to investigate the health regulations and inspection standards for products like this that kids will be using and handling.
- I want to look into different color liners–maybe blue or pink, or patterns that are in demand.
- Additionally, are there different sizes or models for different strollers? Maybe there is a popular stroller that does not have a liner accessory. Or at least I could include that type of stroller brand in the listing, to try to rank for those keywords.
- This is a very strong listing, nice photos and good keywords in the listing.
- I like that it is $20 per trekking pole – because what is one pole good for? You need two! So that would generally mean $40 per order.
- I took a look at the top sellers for “aluminum trekking poles”. Here is the Jungle Scout Extension data. It looks like there’s a lot of demand because these sellers sell quite well, but some sellers have less than 50 reviews and are still ranking in the top 10 sellers for the keyword.
- The sourcing, manufacturing and quality control of these should be fairly straightforward.
I hope this article has given you an idea of how I generate ideas, and evaluate them, when I’m looking for products to sell on Amazon.
The beauty of this business model, and the requisite for product research, is that it is replicable and scalable. You can run through this formula many times over and the products that are promising are in constant flux. That’s what you get when you’re selling on the largest marketplace in the world, the juggernaut known as Amazon.
If you want to learn more we have a whole library of free resources to help you find great products at our Jungle Scout University. Don’t forget to get some free sales estimates using the Jungle Scout Estimator.
Keep generating ideas and applying the methodologies explained in this article. You will be well on your way to building a thriving Amazon business!
Keyword research is the first step in ecommerce SEO because without the right keywords you won’t be able to optimize your website or your product pages for search engines. With the right keywords, however, you have the ability to push your site to the first page of Google and bring in hundreds – or even thousands – of high converting traffic week after week.
This guide will walk you through ecommerce keyword research step-by-step. Let’s jump in and find some keywords!
Ecommerce Keyword Research Methods
First, we’ll kick things off with the best research methods. There are plenty of keyword research tools out there, however, the ones we’re going to discuss in this post are either free or very low cost. Most importantly though, they’re highly effective and offer lots of useful information to help you get the most out of your research.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner (GKP) is a free keyword research tool developed by Google. It was originally created to help Google Adwords users find high-volume, low competition keywords to plan their pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns, however, it also happens to be a good tool for judging keywords’ monthly search volume and for finding closely related keywords.
To use GKP, you first need some seed keyword ideas. A seed keyword is a starting point for keyword research. It’s a word that relates to your product or service that can help you find other keywords.
For example, let’s say we’re selling dog beds. “Dog beds” would be our seed keyword.
As you can see, the term “dog beds” gets 100 thousand to 1 million searches per month, however, we still need to determine organic ranking difficulty, but we’ll cover that in the following section on SEMrush. For now, let’s discuss what else GKP can do.
Important Note: Some people look at the “competition” metric in GKP and think that’s how difficult it is to rank for a keyword. That’s not the case. Competition only refers to the paid ads competition, not organic ranking difficulty. We’ll show you how to see organic ranking difficulty using SEMrush later on.
The other use of GKP is to find closely related keywords you can also include on your page. This is part of an SEO strategy called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).
Basically, LSI is just a fancy way to say that there are other keywords related to your keyword that Google recognizes as being synonymous. When you include these related keyword on your webpage in addition to your primary keyword, you help Google determine what that webpage is about so it can better index it.
For example, “dog bed” and “bed for a dog” are semantically related. Here are some more examples:
As you can see, Google gave us a few semantically related keywords we can use.
- “pet beds”
- “large dog beds”
- “luxury dog beds”
- “best dog beds”
By including these keywords in your product description, you’ll increase your chances of ranking for all of them.
Here’s an example product description based on these keywords alone:
We’re dog people too, that’s why we’ve created the best dog beds in existence. These luxury dog beds will ensure your pup gets the love and rest they deserve, and because these are large dog beds, they’re just right for even the biggest breeds. (Don’t worry – if your baby is just a little one, we have small dog beds too!) Give your dog the very best in luxury and comfort, give your dog the Dog Bed 5000.
Of course, having a seed keyword and some semantic keywords isn’t enough to revamp your entire store. You have to have the right primary keyword first.
So what should you do with these keywords you’ve found?
Put them in a Google spreadsheet, noting their volume. Make a column for difficulty as well. We’ll choose which keywords to target after we’ve got a nicely sized list to whittle down.
Notice we don’t know keyword difficulty yet. We’ll get there with the next tool:
The KWFinder tool is a useful and inexpensive way to find great ecommerce keywords. Just like GKP, start by searching the seed keyword but, as you can see below, the results include a more accurate monthly search volume estimate, as well as a rough estimate of the keyword difficulty.
According to the KWFinder tool, they rank keyword difficulty as follows:
- 0-9: Effortless
- 10-19: Go For It
- 20-29: Easy
- 30-39: Still Easy
- 40-54: Possible
- 55-74: Hard
- 75-89: Very Hard
- 90-100: Don’t Do It
So “dog beds” is “possible” and “luxury dog beds” is “still easy”. In other words, these aren’t difficult keywords to rank for, so if they were our target keywords for our own products we would go ahead and optimize our product pages with these as our primary keywords.
Toss your keywords into your Google Sheet and update each keyword’s difficulty once you’ve searched them on KWFinder.
This is a good start, but we’re still not ready to target anything yet. We need more potential keywords.
Amazon for Ecommerce Keyword Research
Amazon beat Google last year as a starting point for product search. Apparently, 38% of people searched for a product on Amazon first, compared to 35% who started on Google. Because Amazon’s search bar has such a high purchase intent (meaning people tend to buy something after searching), it’s a great place to find high-converting keywords.
Start, like always, you’ll need to start with a seed keyword. Amazon will then be able to give you some helpful auto-suggestions.
Two that stand out to me here are “dog beds for large dogs”, because it’s semantically related to “large dog beds” and “dog beds for crates” because it’s ultra specific. Typically, ultra-specific keywords are high-converting and low competition.
Add any relevant keywords you find to your sheet. Don’t forget to check the volume and difficulty of the keywords with the KWFinder tool or GKP so you can get the necessary data.
See those last two keywords on the list: “dog beds for large dogs” and “dog beds for crates”? We’ve come to our first “long tail keywords”.
Long tail keywords are keywords that, really, are more like key-phrases as they are comprised of four or more words. Typically they have a lower search volume because they’re more specific than shorter keywords, but they’re usually easier to rank for and have a higher conversion rate because they’re more specific.
Should you use them? We’ll talk about that more in the second half of this guide. For now, let’s keep adding keywords to your Google Sheet.
Keyword Tool Dominator
If you thought, “Man, using Amazon to search for individual keywords takes forever. Isn’t there an easier way?” you’re in luck. There is.
The Keyword Tool Dominator scrapes Amazon’s search suggestions to automate the process for you. Just type in your seed keyword:
Then hit search and you’ll get tons of suggestions.
Important Note: Many of the results may not be relevant to you. Filter them by rank to ensure they’re as relevant as possible.
Looks like we have a few potential winners!
Important Note: While it wouldn’t make sense to write “dog beds yellow” in a product description, you could write “yellow dog beds” instead. Google will acknowledge that they’re semantically similar.
Add anything promising to your list. Again, check volume and difficulty on KWFinder and GKP.
Competitor Research Using SEMrush
This is one of the best methods for finding keywords because it’s just so easy. SEMrush is a keyword research tool that shows you the keywords that your competitors are ranking for, including the low-hanging fruit keywords that you can scoop up, which can help you think of new seed keywords you may not have otherwise thought of.
Just look what SEMrush did for our site traffic in less than one year:
So, how do you use SEMrush to find the best, golden nugget keywords?
Here’s a video overview of everything you need to know about SEMrush. Keep in mind the video is an overview of all of SEMrush’s major features, including competitor research. Keep reading this article for the condensed version.
Here’s how to use SEMrush to spy on your competition:
Start by entering a competitor’s URL into the search bar. (I found the example below by Googling “dog beds”.)
Important Note: If you leave the “http://www.” in front of the website, you will only be viewing the data for their home page. Delete that (just put theirwebsite.com) and you’ll see info for their entire site and all pages.
You’re going to be overloaded with a bunch of other information as well. Ignore it all for now and just look on the side bar for “organic research”.
Scroll down and you’ll see “Organic Search Positions”. These are all the keywords your competitor ranks for organically.
Unfortunately, with a free SEMrush account you can only see the top 10 keywords, however, you can get a 7-day free trial which will let you do some initial keyword research for free.
Once you sign up for your free account, dig through the results for good keywords. Rinse and repeat with a few other competitors.
Your list of potential keywords should be pretty long by now but there’s one last ecommerce keyword research method we can use before analyzing the words we’ve found.
I can hear you now: “Huh?” Wikipedia isn’t just for learning about information that your teachers always reminded you wasn’t fit for academic research, it’s also a great way to find keywords!
While it doesn’t work for every category (they don’t have one for “dog bed”), you might luck out and find yours covered. For this example, we’ll use “dog food” instead.
If you find your seed keyword on Wikipedia, check out the contents of the page. You might find some other keyword gems.
The first three could be potential blog post topics and the second two would be great for product descriptions. Just reading through the beginning of the page has already offered great potential keyword ideas.
Again, find the search volume and difficulty of any words you find here by using KWFinder and GKP. That data is what’s going to help you choose your best keywords.
Choosing the Best Keywords for Ecommerce Product & Category Pages
Now that you have a huge list of potential keywords, you’re probably wondering how to choose which keywords to target. The best way to narrow them down is based on these four key criteria:
- Search Volume
- Keyword/Product Fit
- Commercial Intent
Let’s start with the most important metric.
1. Search Volume
Search volume is by far the most important metric to consider when choosing your keywords. It doesn’t matter how easy a keyword is to rank for if no one types it into Google.
That said, knowing how much search volume is “a lot” is difficult to say. It really depends on what your niche is. For some, 100 searches is a lot – for others, 10,000 isn’t much. You should have a feeling for what a “high” search volume is based on the average of all the keywords you’ve found.
Keep in mind that some keywords have major seasonal variation in search volume. For example, “dog beds” seems to get search spikes near the end of November, indicating many people purchase them to give as Christmas gifts. You can find this info using Google Trends.
It’s important to know search trends and the seasonality of your product because they will affect your bottom line. You might not make money for certain parts of the year if you focus on keywords that only get searched for around the holidays.
2. Keyword/Product Fit
So you have a few keywords with tons of search volume. They’re all winners, right? Not necessarily.
The keywords you choose need to make sense with your product. If it’s too much of a stretch, people will get confused when they click on your site and leave. Not only will these people not convert, it will hurt your search rankings.
For example, let’s say you sell dog trackers with GPS capabilities. You see the term “Garmin” getting millions of monthly searches.
But, just because it gets tons of monthly searches, doesn’t mean you can make that keyword relevant to your products. People are more than likely looking for car GPSs when they search “Garmin”.
Instead, it’s better to go with a more relevant keyword, like “GPS tracker”, even though it doesn’t get as much search volume.
Now that you’ve got highly relevant, fairly high search volume keywords, it’s time to see if people are willing to open their wallets for you.
3. Commercial Intent
Ranking #1 for high search volume keywords is awesome, unless all 10,000 searchers have no intent to buy anything. That’s why it’s important to go after keywords with a high commercial intent. In other words, go after keywords that people are searching to buy products.
Luckily, this is actually pretty easy to find out. Just go back to our trusted GKP. Look at the “competition” metric for your keywords.
Remember how we said this shows you how many people are bidding for ads on a particular keyword? Well, chances are, the ones with high competition are high competition because there’s money to be made. People don’t typically waste money on ads that aren’t giving returns.
But even more important than competition is the “suggested bid”. Suggested bid is the average of what people spend for a single click on their Google Adwords ad. The higher the suggested bid, the higher the commercial intent.
Keep in mind that higher suggested bids are also usually more difficult to rank for, but we’ll cover that in the next section. For now, take note of the suggested bid on your keywords. (Consider adding it as an additional column into your spreadsheet.)
One last thing to keep in mind: Look for keywords that scream “I’m looking to buy!”
For example, GPS isn’t a very high “buying” keyword. People searching for this could be looking for anything from the definition to the best GPS to something else entirely. This low buying intent is reflected in the low bid of $0.23.
On the other hand, high buying intent keywords like “buy GPS online” gets far fewer searches, but it’s more likely that the person searching is ready to purchase.
Now let’s look at the final consideration…
You could find a keyword that’s super relevant, with high search volume and an amazing commercial intent, but all of that doesn’t matter if you have no hope of hitting the first page on Google. Why? Because less than 10% of people go past page one of Google.
We already covered how to determine keyword difficulty using the KWFinder tool, however, if you ran out of free searches, you can also see keyword difficulty using your free trial of SEMrush.
Head over to SEMrush and type in your first keyword.
Next, go to the “Keyword Difficulty” tab on the left.
On this page, you’ll see the keyword difficulty. Unlike the KWFinder tool, they display a percentage from 1 to 100, 1% being the easiest. It works in much the same way.
It looks like “dog beds” has a difficulty of 80%. This is much harder than the keyword finder tool claimed, but they are based on different things. Either way, this keyword is going to take some serious work to rank for.
One Last Check for Difficulty: Google It
Don’t take any keyword difficulty metric, regardless of the tool, at face value. Take one last step and check it out on Google.
What you’re looking for here is to see if the other pages are specifically optimized for that keyword. If it’s not, you can potentially outrank it with better on-page optimization (such as your product and meta descriptions).
For now, look place your exact keyword phrase in these places:
- The title tag (the big blue heading text)
- The URL handle
- The meta description
Let’s take a look for dog beds:
As you can see, these results are fairly well optimized, however, a couple of them could have better URLs as they aren’t very customer-facing. While having better optimization isn’t super important (thanks to Google’s Hummingbird update), it can still give you a slight edge over the competition.
This guide has hopefully helped you conduct valuable keyword research, which is a fundamental step for ecommerce SEO. Without keywords you can’t help direct search engines such as Google to show your webpages as search results when they’re most appropriate. Keywords help everyone: they help your webpages get found, they help people searching on Google find exactly what they’re looking for and they help Google pair searchers and the relevant results together.
Take your time finding keywords, searching for their data and building out your Google Sheet. This will help you prepare to make the best possible choices when implementing keywords on your store.
Finding the perfect product to sell online is one of the biggest challenges for new ecommerce entrepreneurs, and for good reason. The product, or products, you choose to sell will have the biggest impact on your business as it launches and grows, and every different kind of product will have a different set of strengths and challenges associated with it.
There are many factors that contribute to finding the perfect product, so we literally wrote the book on it. This is one of the most comprehensive guides you’ll find on the subject, covering everything from where to look for product ideas, selecting a product and niche, evaluating market demand, choosing a business model, sourcing a supplier, and more.
With so many tools and resources included in this guide, you’ll be given the best possible knowledge, suggestions and advice for how to find your perfect product to sell online.
Don’t waste your time searching aimlessly, this guide will show you the right places to look so you can cut to the chase and get straight to business.read more
When a person visits your online store you want them to take an action. As a store owner, you likely want customers to purchase products from your store, however, you might also want them to create an account, add an item to their cart, sign up for your email list, or follow you on social media. Conversion is about getting customers to take an action that moves them deeper into your sales funnel. Ecommerce conversion rate optimization is about figuring out why more of your store’s visitors aren’t converting and then taking steps to improve your chances of turning a browser into a buyer.
Most online stores have a conversion rate of about 1.8%. However, the top 10% can have much better results around 3-5 times higher than the industry standard. With conversion rate optimization, you take the steps to increase your store’s chance of converting more. Even if you increase your conversion rate by 1% your business will be more profitable, thus allowing you to grow more quickly. Taking the steps to convert the customer can bring in more money both in the short term and long term. If you develop a strong relationship with your customers, you can build a loyal fanbase who will continue shopping on your website and you’ll also have access to a wider customer base that you can re-market to.
Important Note: This post is part of a series where we’ll be discussing 50 total ways to increase your ecommerce store’s conversion rates. To learn more about the first 10 ways, keep reading.
How to Determine Areas that Can Benefit from Conversion Rate Optimization
When it comes to conversion rate optimization avoid making any assumptions and let the data tell you whether or not something converts. When you make assumptions without testing, you may be hurting your odds of conversion. Sometimes the data surprises you which allows you to better understand your customers and audience.
If you’re just starting out you can use a free tool like Peek User Testing. You submit your website on the platform and someone will review your website. They’ll share the overall impression of your website while exploring it. You can also upgrade to a paid version where you’ll receive a more in-depth review. Having an objective third-party share insights about your website will allow you to understand what someone’s first impression of your store may be and you’ll get a better understanding of customer’s perspectives for what’s working or not working for you.
If your store regularly gets visitors you can use the Shopify app Lucky Orange. You can view heatmaps and watch recordings of customers using your website. It allows you to see which areas customers look at, where they click and how they go through your website. You might find that they click on a homepage banner that doesn’t link to the product page, or you might find that customers read reviews before making a purchase. You’ll have a better understanding of how your customers navigate your online store allowing you to make adjustments as needed.
You can also use Google Analytics to better optimize your online store for conversions. When looking at reports, you can see which pages could benefit from better conversions so you know where to focus your optimization efforts on. You’ll need to know how to interpret the data in the reports so this is a bit more advanced for new entrepreneurs. You’ll want to analyze segments such as mobile devices used, buyers vs. non-buyers, new vs. returning and so forth. If you’re just starting out, you might want to check out Shopify’s article, Google Analytics for Ecommerce: A Beginner’s Guide.
50 Ways to Increase Your Conversion Rate
1) Split Test Your Images
Product images play a vital role in selling a product. Since your customers can’t touch or try your product on in person, your images need to be compelling enough to still convince them to buy from your store.
To boost your conversions, you’ll want to test various product photos. In addition to having the product on a white background, you might want to have a lifestyle product image. For example, Casetify places their phone cases next to plants and other accessories to bring the image to life.
You’ll want to split test your images to see which converts better. Does your product convert better with a plain white background or if it’s included in a lifestyle type of image. Does your clothing convert better when worn by a person or when laid out on a white background? What number of pictures does a customer need to see on your store before making a purchase? You’ll need to experiment with your product imagery to know what converts best on your store. What works well on another store might not work for you.
If you dropship products from AliExpress you’re often provided multiple product images. Even in this instance if you don’t take your own pictures you can still split test which images convert best. You can test different main images to determine which product image lands the sale best. When dropshipping from AliExpress, you also want to ensure you import products that have impulse buy images. An impulse buy image is one that captivates a customer to make a quick purchase of a product they weren’t looking to buy. These type of images often work well at converting the browser into a buyer.
When creating an image, you want to ensure that the image pops against the store background. Having an image with vibrant colors is more attention grabbing than a white product on a white background. Vibrant images often convert better.
2) Split Test Your Ads
To boost your online store’s conversion rate you’ll also need to split test your ads. Firstly, split testing allows you to buy traffic more affordably and secondly, it allows enough variety so that your customers don’t get used to seeing the same ad.
Ideally, you should have several different ads running simultaneously. You’ll quickly find some products convert better than others and you’ll also find that different images, copy, and offers convert better than others. By doing extensive testing to determine which images, products, copy and offers work best, you work towards optimized ads, thus allowing you to draw in more customers to your store to land more sales.
However, once you’ve determined which ads convert best you’ll still need to create new ads to continue the process to prevent ad fatigue. Ad fatigue is when the performance of an ad drops because it’s been shown to the same audience too many times. You can easily prevent ad fatigue by creating ads with different products, offers and images.
3) Improve Your Site Time
Site speed plays an important role in conversion rate optimization. Some store owners noticed a 1% increase in revenue for every 100 milliseconds of site speed improvement. Others noticed a 7% decrease in conversions for every one second delay in page speed.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your site speed: first, you can reduce the number of items the page has to download. For example, if you have several pop-ups, Shopify apps, images and more that load up as soon as someone visits your website, you may want to test removing some features.
You might also want to decrease the image size of each image without impacting the quality using the Shopify app Crush.pics. Compressing your images allows your website to download images more quickly.
You might want to use fewer scripts or embed YouTube videos instead of hosting them on your website. You’ll want to ensure that you have a great server – if you’re on Shopify you already have one.
4) Use Urgency & Scarcity
Scarcity and urgency tactics work really well psychologically to convince the casual browser that now’s the time to buy. According to Sumo, an online retailer was able to boost their sales by 226% by having a countdown timer on their website.
While we were testing different urgency and scarcity Shopify apps on one of our stores we noticed a drastic drop in sales after removing the Hurrify app. The app is essentially a countdown timer you can customize and you can create scarcity in the copy by mentioning that you have limited quantities available. This app helped boost our conversion rate to about 4%.
Scarcity and urgency work because many people have a fear of missing out. They don’t want to miss out on the deal or product with limited quantities which encourages an impulse buy. There are certain keywords and phrases you can use that’ll help encourage that impulse buy such as mentioning “Limited Edition”, “Limited Quantities”, “While Supplies Last”, “Only 2 Left”, “Sale Ends in 15 Minutes” and they can help boost your sales. You’ll want to test it out on your store to find the phrase that encourages the most sales.
5) Update Your Website Design
Changing your website’s look can help boost conversions. According to VWO, there are several design principles that can help boost conversions such as different colors, use of white space and more.
For example, if you look at SpaceX’s online store you’ll notice that it has a dark color scheme. They could likely further boost sales by adding a white background to product images, remove drop down menus when there’s only one option, avoid having grey fonts on the grey background and changing any odd color fonts.
While it’s important to stay on brand you also want to ensure that your product images and copy are easy to read. Making slight adjustments to your online store or a drastic theme change can help improve conversions.
6) Have Clear Copy
You should have well-written, clear, action driven copy on your website. Your homepage should tell your customers what problem you’re solving for them. For example, if you sell fitness equipment you help solve the problem of excess body weigh. When writing copy on your website you want to let your customers know the problem you solve to compel them to buy.
When it comes to the product page you should split test your copy. You need to figure out which format converts best whether it is a list of bullet points, a short paragraph, a mix of bullet points and paragraph, one long paragraph or no copy. You’ll also want to showcase the benefits of your product rather than just the features. What’s the benefit of the product size or fabric? For example, if your product is made of cotton you could also mention “for a softer feel.”
You should provide enough copy on your website from product information to return policies to ensure that the customer has all the information they need to feel comfortable enough to buy from your store. Copy can play an important role in building customer trust. When a new store visitor trusts your brand, you’ll be better able to convert them into a customer.
7) Present an Irresistible Offer
By presenting an irresistible offer you’ll be better able to boost your conversion rate. There are many ways to present an irresistible offer but the most common are pricing strategies and bundling.
When a product has a steep discount, it looks like a better deal. Pricing items at 50% off often works really well. You’ll want to ensure that your products are priced appropriately so that your business is still profitable.
When it comes to bundling, having a “Buy Two Get a Free Gift” or “Buy Three Get One Free and a Free Gift” typically works well. The free gift should typically be an item with a very low product cost like jewelry or cufflinks. This strategy also helps boost average order value to ensure you make a higher profit.
Pricing and bundling work really well because your customers won’t be able to find a better deal anywhere else. Having a free gift or a steep discount often helps encourage a customer to buy right now because people like freebies and saving money. If done effectively, you can increase your business’ revenue and profit. You will have to crunch some numbers to ensure that you take in all business costs into account.
8) Sliders Can Convert Better Than Video
Some store owners choose to have a video featured on their homepage. While video is known for boosting conversions, the length of the video matters. If your video is a couple minutes long or longer, having a slider might actually convert better than video. However, for the most part, sliders with only one main image typically converts best. When you have only one banner image that links out to a collection or a specific product, you simplify the selection process. Having multiple banner images can distract people during their shopping experience. Showcase your best product or collection on the banner image to drive more traffic to it and lead your customers through the sales funnel.
9) Set-Up Retargeting Campaigns
One of the biggest struggles for store owners is cart abandonment. According to Baymard approximately 69.23% of carts get abandoned on retail stores. Most marketing experts recommend sending retargeting emails, however, they’re not as effective as running retargeting ads. You can run retargeting ads to customers who added your product to their cart but never went through the checkout experience. These type of ads can easily boost conversions and convert customers you thought you lost.
They work well because depending on where you run your retargeting ads they keep showing up. If you retarget with Google, websites that use AdSense will show your ad. If you use Facebook, your retargeting ads will appear on Facebook or Instagram. If you use push notifications, the customer will receive a notification on their desktop that they’ve left something in their cart.
10) Focus on What’s Above the Fold
Whether it’s your homepage or your product page, everything above the fold should be optimized. Above the fold is the top part of the website that a person sees before scrolling. According to Neilsen web users spend about 80% of their time on your website above the fold.
Since customers may not through the rest of your product page, you’ll want to ensure that your customer has everything they need to buy above the fold. You might want to include the product star rating, product photo, marketing tactics and of course, the add to cart button. You’ll want to have sale information, a countdown timer, or other scarcity and urgency tactics above the fold. Your add to cart button should be visible so that a customer who lands on that page can go through the sales process with ease.
When working to increase your online store’s conversion rate never underestimate the power of testing. Little by little you’ll start to see your conversion rate increase bringing your business more money to work with. People who regularly optimize their online stores tend to make more money than those who don’t regularly run split tests. Not only will optimizing your store make you a better marketer, it’ll also help you build a stronger relationship with your customers. From creating copy that helps customers realize your product solves their problem to creating an easy to navigate store that makes shopping online fun, customers do notice the work you put into your store. Focus on creating and optimizing your store for your customers and you’ll build brand loyalty.
Remember, these are just the first 10 of 50 ways to increase your conversion rates. We’ll be building on this post in future to discuss even more ways to increase your conversions.
Branding is one of the most important aspects of your business, and when you’re just starting to build your business, creating a strong brand identity is what’s going to guarantee long term success for your business.
It’s not enough for an ecommerce business to just sell products anymore. Every market is oversaturated now so it’s important for you to develop a strong brand identity that will influence every business decision you make surrounding what you sell, how you sell it and who you sell it to.
Your brand is what’s going to connect you to your customers and be the reason they purchase from you and continue to repurchase. It’s a powerful part of your business that massively impacts your sales, so make sure you’re building your best brand from day one.
This guide will break down all the elements it takes to create the best brand for your business and every aspect that goes into the process so you can start making brand driven decisions for your business from day one.read more